Written by Rev. Alan Cook, Director of Spiritual Care & Culture
It’s been quite a month in our nation’s history, hasn’t it? Canada Day is here again, but we are led to ask how “our home and native land” is doing. As we begin to come out of the pandemic lockdown, looking forward to ‘freedom’ and ‘returning to normal’, we’ve been reminded that our understandings of ‘freedom’ and ‘normal’ need to be revised a bit.
The recent discovery of the unmarked graves of 215 children at the Kamloops Residential School threw this part of our history into shocking relief at the end of May. Statues are being toppled, and so is our sense of what it means to be a normal Canadian.
Then the awful killing of a Muslim family in London, Ontario came as a terrible reminder of the challenges of living in a multicultural society. While we are still a society in which the ethnically White, European, and culturally-Christian peoples form the vast majority, we’re no longer allowed to assume any sense of superiority in the land. In fact, it’s almost the opposite – there’s a growing sense of shame about our heritage and the damage we’ve done. We might feel resentful of being put in that position, or even seek to deny it. But we don’t have to get stuck there…
In one of our weekly hymn sings in late June, I invited the group to reflect with me on these sad events. Then we held a two-minute silence. We remembered the dead children, the murdered Muslim family, and we simply felt the sadness together before God.
As a home rooted in the Christian faith and the Mennonite tradition, let us remember that one of the first things we do when we come before God is to acknowledge our sin and our need for forgiveness. That’s good news, isn’t it? That we don’t have to try to hide our mistakes, that we’re not stuck; that we’re a people who know how to say ‘sorry’, who are willing to change? AND that we have a God who is willing to forgive us, to heal and to help us. So, when we pray, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done”, we are opening ourselves to the possibility of a new future and a better world
I wish you all a Happy, and a Blessed Canada Day!